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Synchrotron XRF analyses of element distribution in fossilized sauropod dinosaur bones

  • M. Dumont (a1), N. Zoeger (a2), C. Streli (a2), P. Wobrauschek (a2), G. Falkenberg (a3), P. M. Sander (a4) and A. R. Pyzalla (a5)...

Sauropod dinosaurs were typically one magnitude larger than any other living or extinct terrestrial animal. This sheer size of the sauropod leads to scale effects in their biology and physiology that still are inadequately understood. The only remnants of the sauropods are their fossilized bones. These fossilized bones have sustained burial for some hundred million years and thus may have experienced significant diagenetic changes. These diagenetic changes often do not affect bone preservation on the histological level, but may lead to significant alterations of the bone microstructure. Here the influence of diagenesis on the microstructure of fossilized sauropod bones using femur cross section of Brachiosaurus brancai that was excavated in the Tendaguru beds in Tanzania is investigated. The element distribution in this dinosaur bone is studied by a combination of micro-X-ray-fluorescence (μ-XRF) using synchrotron radiation and energy dispersive X-ray analyses (EDX) in the scanning electron microscope. These techniques reveal quantitative values of the element concentration at a macroscopic level combined with qualitative information at high spatial resolution of the distribution of Ca, Co, Cr, V, Pb, U, Sr, Y, and As in the fossil bones. This allows a differentiation between the remnants of the original bone apatite and pore filling minerals and also a visualization of damage, e.g., cracks introduced by diagenetic processes.

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Powder Diffraction
  • ISSN: 0885-7156
  • EISSN: 1945-7413
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